The World Health Organization has officially categorised the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. As with any crisis, it is not an isolated or neatly contained event. The novel COVID-19 outbreak is exceptional by any standards and with it comes extreme scope and levels of uncertainty. Estimating the virus’s effect on the global economy is near impossible at the moment and it is well beyond the experience of most business leaders who, under any other circumstances, would know how to get ahead of a crisis. Business leaders are faced with the challenge to keep operations running while still protecting employees’ health and wellbeing.
According to Crisis Survey, approximately seven in ten leaders (that is, 69% of their survey participants) have experienced at least one corporate crisis during the last five years, with the average number of crises experienced in these companies exceeding three. COVID-19 will test many business leaders to the limit. They have to answer the tough question – how resilient is my business during a time of crisis?
What can you do, as an organisation, to stay agile and operational during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic?
It doesn’t necessarily have to be all doom and gloom – businesses can, with some out of the box thinking and, most importantly, preparation, protect both their workers and their bottom line. Below we list what we consider the top 3 considerations to manage a crisis such as COVID-19.
- Adaptivity is key. Working smart means making informed changes based on the information you have and adapting policies in such a way that it allows people to work smart yet with minimal risk. In every scenario, clear and decisive communication is key even more so in this case to avoid speculation. Therefore, communicate goals and responsibilities clearly to your team (individually) and online when addressing these on an organisational level.
- Determine the best tools and technology to empower your people to stay agile, engaged, and connected. Any organisation suddenly faced with wrangling a remote workforce will face myriad challenges synchronising schedules, tracking projects and, in some instances, even working across different time zones. This requires more than a mere webcam. For example, for video conferencing you can consider FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams and even Google Hangouts. It places you in the same room virtually while physically still maintaining social distancing. There is ample cloud-based software, free of charge and paid for, available to track projects, for example, Trello, Monday.com and FusionFox. And, for inter-company communication, there is Slack, a messaging platform that conveniently straddles the line between email and instant messaging making keeping in contact a breeze. Even the basic WhatsApp group will keep employees in contact and updated.
- Brief your clients on what to expect. Last Thursday night (12 March 2020) we made an executive decision to work remotely and create a safe distance for our beloved team and stakeholders. Implementation was immediate. After four days we were already productively settled into a new way of working. You can read our full statement here.
Beyond the panic and anxiety, disruption from travel bans, disruptions to supply chains, mandated work from home, and a general recession-like climate that will undoubtedly impact business-as-usual there is a light at the end of the tunnel. However, in times of pressure staying agile and adaptive are more important than ever. In our next post, we will outline Trainiac’s approach to staying agile and productive during the COVID-19 pandemic.